Business Crime: Private Prosecutions


The right of a private individual or organisation to commence criminal proceedings is longstanding. It survived the establishment of the office of the director of public prosecutions and the formation of the CPS and the SFO. The highest courts in the land have explained its continuance as a safeguard against the wrongful refusal or failure by public prosecuting authorities to institute proceedings.

Private prosecutions span a wide spectrum. From the Competition and Markets Authority, Transport for London, the Security Industry Authority, and also those protecting intellectual property or other rights and on to companies and individuals who consider that, by some form of deceit and/or dishonesty they have been cheated or caused loss by another company and/or individual.

Private prosecutions have for many years been utilised by corporations and trade bodies to protect themselves against complex fraud or intellectual property theft in circumstances where the case’s complexity requires the intervention of specialist counsel.

QEB Hollis Whiteman is the market leader in this field, with unparalleled experience in bringing private prosecutions, often in relation to complex and high profile criminal conduct.  

When considering bringing a private prosecution it is essential to select a legal team capable of advising not only on the particular mechanics of the system itself but who are also specialists in the offence which underpins the prosecution. With this in mind Chambers has a team of private prosecutors each of whom has a particular field in which they practice, be it intellectual property, corporate fraud or other serious crime. The advantage of this system is that we are able to advise potential private prosecutors on all aspects of a case, which leads to better value for the client and enables swift progress of a case where required.

QEB Hollis Whiteman’s private prosecution team, have established reputations as leaders in the field.  David Groome and Ari Alibhai are both recognised as such by the Legal 500 which this year features them in its Media and Entertainment category.  They have between them conducted over 250 private prosecutions, specialising in particular in criminal intellectual property infringement. Clients include Federation Against Copyright Theft [FACT], Football Association Premier League [FAPL], British Recorded Music Industry [BPI], Virgin Media Limited and Football Dataco Ltd.

We also have a wealth of experience in conducting private prosecutions on behalf of individuals:

  • In 2014, William Boyce QC and Rachna Gokani acted for the prosecution in what is believed to be the largest ever private prosecution brought by an individual. The case of R v Somaia resulted in 9 convictions for obtaining money transfers by deception, with a total value of US$19.7 million. The defendant was sentenced to a period of 8 years’ imprisonment;

  • We are regularly instructed to appear on behalf of the Security Industry Authority, the body responsible for regulating the private security industry. We have worked closely with the SIA since its creation and continue to be involved in key cases for the SIA, such as the first prosecution of a company under the Private Security Industry Act 2001;

In 2014, the Lord Chief Justice commented upon the increase in private prosecutions, at what he perceived to be a time of economic retrenchment, in areas where the state had previously had the resources and the will to conduct prosecutions itself. In the current climate, private prosecutions can provide an opportunity for some victims of criminal conduct to seek justice, even when the State has neither the current political will nor the resources to do so for them.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss your concerns, in the strictest confidence.  For more information on Private Prosecutions, please contact Chris Emmings on 020 7933 8870 or chris.emmings@qebhw.co.uk

Notable cases:

R -v- Mahoney (2015)
A Northern Ireland man was sentenced to 4 years in prison at Londonderry Crown Court last week for running an internet pirac
David Groome | Ari Alibhai

Helidon Vuciterni (2014)
David Groome and Ari Alibhai acted for the Premier League in the successful prosecution today of Helidon Vuciterni and his c
David Groome | Ari Alibhai

Dancing Jesus (aka: Kane Robinson -&- Richard Graham) (2014)
Private Prosecution success against Dancing Jesus website
David Groome | Ari Alibhai

R -v- Danks (Philip) (2014)
Philip Danks, ringleader of a sophisticated online and filming piracy network, was sentenced to 33 months in prison at Wol
David Groome | Ari Alibhai

R -v- Somaia (Ketan) (2014)
Successful private prosecution, Ketan Somaia was convicted by a jury of 9 counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception.
William Boyce QC | Rachna Gokani

R v Anton Vickerman [www.surfthechannel.com] 2009-2014 (2014)
Prosecution brought on behalf of the Federation Against Copyright Theft against the operator of one of the world’s most

R -v- Reid & Lewis - Araditracker (2013)
Instructed by Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland to prosecute in the alleged operation of the film torrent
David Groome | Ari Alibhai

R -v- Zinga (Munaf) (2013)
Private Prosecution (on behalf of Virgin Media Ltd) of importer and wholesaler of devices designed to defraud Virgin Media.
David Groome | Ari Alibhai

R v Rayyonics Ltd (2012)
Illicit set-top box supplier
David Groome | Ari Alibhai

Virgin Media v Faulkner and others (2010)
Multi-defendant cable television fraud
David Groome | Ari Alibhai

For more information on crime-related matters, please contact the clerks on 020 7933 8855 or barristers@qebhw.co.uk